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Vitreous cryopreservation maintains the function of vascular grafts


Avoidance of ice formation during cooling can be achieved by vitrification, which is defined as solidification in an amorphous glassy state that obviates ice nucleation and growth. We show that a vitrification approach to storing vascular tissue results in markedly improved tissue function compared with a standard method involving freezing. The maximum contractions achieved in vitrified vessels were >80% of fresh matched controls with similar drug sensitivities, whereas frozen vessels exhibited maximal contractions below 30% of controls and concomitant decreases in drug sensitivity. In vivo studies of vitrified vessel segments in an autologous transplant model showed no adverse effects of vitreous cryopreservation compared with fresh tissue grafts.

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Excellent technical assistance was provided by Janet Boggs, Beth Greene, and Kim McCourry. We thank Otto Hagen for advice relating to the physiological aspects of this study. This work was supported in part by a cooperative agreement (#97-07-0039) with the US Department of Commerce, National Institute of Standards Technology–Advanced Technology Program.

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Correspondence to Michael J. Taylor.

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Figure 1: Contractile responses for frozen or vitrified vein rings in response to a panel of agonists.
Figure 2: Maximal smooth muscle precontraction and relaxation in fresh, vitrified, and frozen veins.
Figure 3: Contractile dose/response curves for fresh, frozen, and vitrified veins.
Figure 4: Micrographs of rabbit jugular vein segments cryosubstituted with methanol at −90°C from frozen (A), or vitrified (B–D) tissue.